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Mathieu van der Poel to skip Volta a Catalunya as he continues illness recovery

Dutchman's race schedule subject to change with coronavirus situation

Joe Robinson
11 Mar 2020

Mathieu van der Poel will skip the Volta a Catalunya as he continues his recovery from a bout of flu. The Dutchman will instead head to Belgium to continue his preparation for the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Alpecin-Fenix confirmed that cyclocross World Champion Van der Poel had recovered from his illness enough to continue training in Spain but would not compete at the Spanish stage race as first planned.

Instead, the Dutchman will return back to the team's base in Belgium to train and explore an altered race programme ahead of the Cobbled Classics in early April.

Talking to Belgian press, team director Christophe Roodhooft explained that Van der Poel was not yet at peak form but had got over his sickness from last week.

'Of course his condition today is a little less than what it was a year ago, but that makes sense. Van der Poel's programme for the coming weeks hasn't been set one hundred per cent yet. What is certain is that he won't ride the Volta a Catalunya,' said Roodhooft.

'Mathieu has been sick for a full week. That makes you a little weak but it's not a disaster. There are still a few weeks until the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.'

Instead of heading to Catalunya, smaller one-day races Nokere Koerse, the Breden Koksijde Classic and GP Denain could act as replacements. However, no decision will be made until guarantees are made that these races will run.

The ongoing coronavirus situation has already impacted Van Der Poel's season, with the postponement of Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, although Roodhoft confirmed he would have been absent anyway due to illness.

'Mathieu would not have made it to Strade Bianche, but he might have done Milan-San Remo - not in top form, but to participate. Both we as a team and Mathieu were looking forward to his debut in La Primavera,' said Roodhoft.

'He also would have done Omloop Het Nieuwsblad but these are things we can't control ourselves, but they are part of the life of a top athlete.'

Ultimately, like the sporting world currently, Van der Poel's immediate plans are at the behest of the COVID-19 virus and the responses of governments to the crisis.

Currently, there is a ban on gatherings of 1,000 people in both Belgium and France although most cycling races are still going ahead albeit with restrictions on crowds at the start and finish lines.

On Tuesday, the 40th edition of the Tour of Normandie, set to take place between 23rd and 29th March, was cancelled due to concerns around the coronavirus.